DD's Friend Is Being Bullied And Feel Helpless(8 Posts)
When dd, 10, (let's call her Ellie) first started at her school she occasionally mentioned an 'annoying' girl in her class. (We'll call her Hannah.) Towards the end of last term they became friends down to a mutual interest they share. Hannah started to pop in before school and she'd sometimes come for tea etc. She's polite and friendly but I noticed Hannah sometimes had very obvious body odour. I also noticed she was quite OTT when I took them to the park. She seemed to annoy other children as a game i.e. creeping up and shouting random things at them from behind. I've only met Hannah's parents a couple of times and they seemed friendly but obviously I didn't feel I could talk to them about their DD's hygiene issue. (The parents also had BO).
Fast forward to the new term. A few days in and Ellie has been coming home upset about the friendship with Hannah. Apparently Hannah has been disrupting her in class and extra rough at playtimes. Ellie doesn't cry very often so I was obviously concerned enough to go into school. The school say they will have them sit separately in class.
After a few days Ellie is still not happy though, Hannah is still being too rough outside of lessons so we end up going into school again. The teacher says that Ellie needs to just be more assertive and tell Hannah to not push her about. It's becoming obvious though that the issue is more complicated. Why doesn't Ellie just play with other friends? The teacher says that Hannah has some 'other things going on' and is seeing a counsellor in school. Teacher also feels that Ellie isn't fully explaining what the problem is either. He suggests Ellie has a good long think and writes down what is upsetting her.
We come home and we decide Ellie should write a letter to Hannah so she can work out what is actually the problem. Her letter is so sad to read. Hannah is being verbally bullied. She deals with this by fighting back. She doesn't tell the teachers. She tries to get Ellie to fight too. Sometimes Hannah starts the fights before anyone has even said anything. Ellie is spending her playtimes watching Hannah chasing and shouting at people. In her letter she says it has been hard to be her friend. She can't play with her unless things change. She doesn't want Hannah to get into fights but Ellie will go with her to find an adult when people bully her. We decide it might be an idea for the teacher to read this letter to Hannah with Ellie present to answer any questions. The next day the teacher does this and Hannah starts crying. Ellie feels awful. The teacher says Ellie can go but Hannah stays back with the teacher. Ellie plays with other friends for the rest of the day.
The next day Hannah isn't at school. Ellie is still feeling bad that Hannah cried but says it's like freedom when Hannah is not there. She can play with her other friends. (Occasionally Ellie has gone to play with other friends when Hannah has been getting into fights and Hannah will then come over and the other friends will say Hannah can't play as well) It's all so shit. What can we do? I'm glad Ellie said about the bullying in the letter so the school are fully aware of it. Also can the school tell Hannah's parents that she is coming to school with body odour? Or would they just refer to SS about it? I think I just feel so helpless. I know how bad Ellie must be feeling but I feel so concerned for Hannah. Maybe I should have sent a text to Hannah's parents when I first noticed the BO? I was crying last night because I wish there was something we could do.
Is there anything I could do?
You've done the right thing. The school must now start their anti bullying policy for Hannah. My ds was a 'Hannah' without the BO and problems. He was being verbally abused and it took 2 friends like your daughter to write it all down (and my ds to write about it in his english exam) before the school acted.
With regard to the BO, your school shouldhave teachers in charge of pastoral care or the school nurse service who can raise this. It would only go to SS if its part of a much larger family problem. Its not for you to contact the parents about as they could find it very embarassing but do congratulate your daughter on standing up for the other girl.
What a sad situation, you must be feeling terrible, and ellie as well - poor both of you as well as Hannah.
Is it usual practice do you/anyone know for a letter to be read to a dc like this? It sounds as though both girls may be in need of support at the moment - ellie and hannah. Can you go back to the teacher and ask for the person responsible for pastoral care to get involved - both so that ellie can be reassured, and also that will mean you are reassured that school is addressing hannah's needs as well.
Separate question whether you should tell the dps about this - not about the hygiene, that is for school to speak to them about. But I would definitely want to know about the letter if i were hannah's dp - do you know if school has told them?
Thanks for the replies. Getting the teacher to read the letter with Hannah and Ellie was our idea due to the fact that the teacher spoke with them together last week after Ellie had first told me how unhappy she was with the issues in the friendship but nothing had changed. Ellie said she found it difficult to be honest during the first chat, so we thought a letter would mean she could say what she wanted to say. I don't know if Hannah has the letter or even showed it to her parents. I don't know if the school have spoken to the parents but as she was off on Friday maybe the school put 2 and 2 together and rung, I don't know.
Now I've had time to think about it I see that Hannah's bullying is really the issue behind all this. Do you think I should call mum? And explain what has happened from our end, although I am fully aware there might be another angle, maybe Ellie has been unkind? Argh. I did ask if there was a teacher/member of staff who might have the skills to sit with them and talk through the issues but as I said I think it's largely the bullying that has caused this, Hannah is obviously feeling very defensive naturally and is fighting back against the verbal abuse rather than seeking help to stop it.
It probably goes some way to explain the stuff in classroom, maybe Hannah is hyper focused on Ellie in class as she sees her as her only ally but to Ellie it feels too intense and now even normal stuff is seen as annoying. I just don't know what to do? Even if I ring mum I can't really guarantee anything, I can't say 'I will make Ellie play with Hannah'. It's so difficult.
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Gosh, that sounds so difficult for you and ellie. I think calling the dps would be very difficult for you and them, and as you say, you can't possibly promise that ellie will play with hannah - that would be unfair on ellie, and anyway won't solve the problem. As labeo says, it's for the school to address the problem - and if were the dp i would definitely want to know what's being going on - so i suppose the only reason for you to call the dps would be to make sure that they do know. But it shouldn't really be that you have to. I'd suggest you ask the teaher if they've been informed - but then he may not be able to discuss it with you!
My sympathies - this is a horrible position to be in, and you sound so caring about hannah.
I think I'll ring the school tomorrow as Ellie has mentioned names of individuals who have been nasty to Hannah. I will also be asking Ellie to keep me posted on anything she sees/hears and reporting it back to school.
Thats exactly what the teacher involved with my ds advised the other 2, as it provides a log of incidents that they can act upon. They won't be able to tell you anything about what they are doing due to confidentiality and I wouldn't question your dd about incidents or names of other children from now on rather just make a note if she mentions it as otherwise it will feel to the school that you are offering your dd as assistance which is not what she or hannah needs x
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